It has been raining in Virginia and it shows no signs of stopping! I heard that parts of the trail further north in Virginia have been closed due to high water.
I stayed at a Hotel in Atkins Va for two nights. I knew it was supposed to continue raining for a while. I started looking in my guide book and saw that there was a hostel called Appalachian Dreamer Hostel, which was about 12.8 miles ahead. I was having a difficult time deciding what to do, when I found this hostel in the guide book. It seemed like it was the perfect solution. Even if I hiked in the rain, I knew I would at least have a place to get out of it when I reached the hostel, get dry, and do laundry. A hostel would be a cheaper stay than the motel, and this would keep me moving forward.
I had to cross the bridge in the very first picture to get to the hostel. As you can see, the water was nearly topping the bridge. When Papa J and Tumble arrived later that day, they said water was flowing slightly over the top! Scary.
I can’t say enough good things about the Appalachian Dreamer Hiker Hostel. Mack, the owner, is a former thru-hiker. If my memory is correct, he was 60 when he thru hiked the A.T.
It is Christian based, and Mack’s church helps donate things to keep the hostel running. There is a suggested donation of $20.00 per night, which includes a bunk, laundry, shower, breakfast and supper (both of which are cooked by Mack.) That is a very low price!
(Papa J and Mack)
Mack led a prayer before each meal. Though he wasn’t pushy, I’m sure the Christian atmosphere and rules about drugs, sex and profanity have turned some away, but I have to believe that those who are meant to stay will land there.
Mack was a gracious host, and a great cook! I felt like I was staying at a family member’s house, rather than a hostel. Every night beforeMack went to bed, he came to the bunk room and asked if anyone needed anything. The hostel was neat and clean.There was a kitchen and table in the hostel where Mack made the meals. There were snacks and sodas to purchase, games to play, and he even had an original working jukebox (with vinyl records) that had selections from the 50’s.
(Tumble, Sugar Magnolia , Papa J, Preach, Mack, Doc)
I only intended to stay at the Appalachian Dreamer Hostel for one night, but Mack offered to ‘slack pack’ me and my bunk mates for free. My bunk mates were Doc and Preach (wife and husband) Papa J (60, a cartoonist and folk singer. He does all of the old country songs that have yodels, and is quite good, and a very nice guy,) Tumble (39, from the U.K.)and Sugar Magnolia (38, a section Hiker.) Sugar Magnolia had already been there a week nursing some bad blisters.
Mack drove us on the back roads of gravel to get us to our starting point. Normally, he would have charged $150 per car for that slackpack, but he offered it to us for free. I think he is lonely, and I also think he wanted us to stay another night so he could take us to the community potluck dinner the next night.
It must have taken an hour to get there driving those back roads. I wish I had taken pictures of the beauty on those back roads! I’m grateful I did the slackpack if for no one her reason than to see more of Virginia’s beauty. Virginia is sometimes called ‘the green tunnel’ by hikers, because there are very few views on much of the trail. It is just a jungle with a canopy of trees overhead. Not so at the hostel (which was on top of a hill with a beautiful view) nor on those gorgeous back roads.
The slack pack was 17.8 miles. Most of the pics posted are from my slackpack day. Many of the streams were swollen and had to be waded. Normally you can rock hop most of them. Lately, many have to be waded. They are not dangerous…just gets your feet wet and your feet soggy.
While we were hiking, it was beautiful but after we got back, it poured. It would also pour torrentially overnight. All of us hikers took a shower and cleaned up after hiking and Mack loaded us up and took us to a community potluck dinner. It was in a beautiful old building with a gorgeous view! I wish I had taken my phone with me so I could have taken some pictures. I felt like I was in a movie! (Mack told us that somewhere near there was the lake in which they filmed a scene from the movie, ‘Dirty Dancing’.)
The people were very nice–not unlike some people I know at home in Arkansas. The food was awesome! Mack took a corn casserole and homemade peach ice cream.
(Rhododendrons in bloom.)
I don’t think Mack wanted us to leave, nor did we. We six and Mack had formed a bond. We were all ‘older’ and he said he prefers the older crowd. I think Mack is probably in his 70’s (just a guess.) Sugar Magnolia said she asked Mack if he would adopt her. He told her she was too old and the insurance wouldn’t cover her. I think we all wanted to be adopted by Mack, and I also think it was probably the love of Jesus we experienced through him that made us hate to leave him.
The gravel roads were torn up from the downpours the night before as Mack drove us to our drop off point. It was very slow going. God bless this dear man for blessing us, in spite of the time and trouble on his part!
We all said our goodbyes to Mack and took off down the trail.
I would appreciate your prayers for Mack. He doesn’t know if he will have the hostel in the future and is not sure where he will be. I do know this is a Godly man who is looking for Gods will in his life. Let’s just call it an unspoken prayer request for Mack.
If you would like to see some pictures of his place and learn more about his hostel, you can follow the link below.
I enjoyed my stay at this hostel and it will be amongst my favorite memories on the trail.